Amanda Stephas, Early Childhood

Minor Emphasis: Early Childhood Special Education

Why did you choose UNI's Teacher Education program?  I chose UNI because of the size and it was close to home.  Once I was here, I felt very comfortable and at home on campus.  After starting school I decided to go into education because of my love for children and the desire to help them grow into productive and happy citizens.

What current/prior experiences do you have with special education?  I worked with a 27-year-old male with special needs.  I worked with him on community integration, facilitated communication, and social skills.  I am currently working in a preschool and have a few children who are on Autism Spectrum in my classroom.  I also work with young children who have behavioral and learning disabilities.

What is a fond memory of your time spent at UNI?  My time at UNI has been wonderful! I have many great memories of spending time with friends, going to sporting events, and working on group projects. However, I had a moment as a student at UNI that made me decide to enroll in special education and specifically early childhood. I was on a run with a friend and we came to a mother pushing her very young daughter in a wheel chair.  I stopped and said hello to the little girl and asked what her name was and had a brief conversation.  Both the mother and daughter were surprised that I spoke with them.  The mother became overwhelmed with emotion and began crying.  She kept thanking me for talking to her daughter and explained that most people rudely stare or look the other way. After that experience, I knew that I had to enroll in the special education program in order to make even a small difference in the lives of children just like that little girl.  This moment helped me realize that students with special needs deserve love, attention, and a quality education.

Any tips for prospective/current students that are working toward similar degrees?  The special education program is a wonderful program that may be challenging at times, but the joy that comes from the children makes it worth it. This program requires true passion in order to succeed and truly make a difference in the lives of those you teach.

What are your career plans? Where would you like your UNI education to take you?  After I student teach I plan to come back to UNI to get my Masters degree in Early Childhood Special Education. After that time, I would like a job as a preschool special education teacher.